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Courtesy docks, other changes slated for Pier District

Veronica Brezina



Pier sunset
St. Pete Catalyst photos.

The St. Pete Pier District will now have new courtesy docks and may see possible changes to the seawall. 

The St. Pete City Council on Thursday unanimously approved an amendment to incorporate 25 floating courtesy docks near the St. Pete Pier as part of the district’s waterfront assets. 

The city would incorporate the docks similar to how it has incorporated and operated the docks near Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro restaurant on Bayshore Drive, said Chris Ballestra, managing director of development for the City of St. Petersburg. 

The vessels docked at the courtesy docks could be used for recreational and/or educational purposes. For example, the nonprofit Tampa Bay Watch group, which runs the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Watch Center on the pier, can use the docks for its eco-tours as the use falls under educational purposes. 

However, the vessels at the courtesy docks cannot be used for commercial or nonrecreational purposes such as loading and unloading of commercially harvested seafood products or other goods. 

“The goal for these courtesy docks is obviously for public use. It’s long been something we’ve not had in the city,” Ballestra said. 

Councilmember and mayoral candidate Darden Rice asked about the pier becoming the St. Pete terminus for the Cross-Bay Ferry, which currently utilizes the Vinoy Marina as its St. Pete location and the Tampa Convention Center on the others end of its journey.

Ballestra said the pier is designed to handle the ferry, if the operators decide to use the pier. 

The city may also make changes to the seawall by the pier in an area where commercial ships once cruised. 

“We have the ability to bring in those tall ships and recreate what we had before – a more active space,” Ballestra said, noting that it is subject to the budget. 

Off the water, the city plans to rework the grassy lawn area where the Janet Echelman “Bending Arc” sculpture is installed. 

The city also plans to add more shading in the district.  

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  1. Avatar

    Natalie Stockard

    August 5, 2021at5:16 pm

    The Pier is just a year old. What do they mean by “rework” the lawn?

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    August 5, 2021at9:30 pm

    More shading is critical, especially in the areas where families congregate. Between the parking lot and the splash pad it is brutal. The designers of the space failed to recognize the intense sun that is part of a St. Pete summer. A shade cover also needs to be installed at the playground. Way too intense for small children to play there in the summer, especially with the heat and light reflecting up from the plastic grass.

  3. Avatar


    August 6, 2021at1:17 am

    Are these even more new docks in addition to the ones in front of Doc Ford’s?

  4. Avatar

    Frank DiCosola

    August 6, 2021at1:17 am

    Are these even more new docks in addition to the ones in front of Doc Ford’s?

    • Veronica Brezina

      Veronica Brezina

      August 6, 2021at6:51 am

      Hi Frank, Yes they are! They are now considered as part of the district’s assets.

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    Laura & Thane

    August 6, 2021at5:37 am

    Great job! Thanks, we are looking forward to traveling more often to the pier by boat.

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    Joe Sica

    August 6, 2021at7:35 am

    Anything that enhances reasonable access to the very “still” under-rated St. Petersburg downtown waterfront – and promote boating on our waters – is fine by me. I was skeptical if St. Pete would ever turn around and equally skeptical of a new pier…. I’ve been totally wrong all the way. Love bringing my boat and guest downtown (from Treasure Island).

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    Ferry Lover

    August 6, 2021at10:33 am

    Really hoping the city pushes to have the Cross Bay Ferry docked at the Pier. One of the biggest issues with the last docking station was the lack of parking nearby. Not to mention, how cool is it for Tampa Bay to potentially have stops at Sparkman Wharf and the St Pete Pier, two of the best outdoor areas in the entire region to promote tourism.

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    Chuck Nolan

    August 6, 2021at8:37 pm

    When is the city going to fulfill the promise of the mooring field in front of the Vinoy? A concrete wall was built in front of the dinghy dock rendering it and the mooring field, unusable. It you moor there you can’t get off your boat. This is also technically an illegal mooring field since it does not meet the state requirements to control an anchorage; moorings, dinghy dock, access to bathrooms and pump out facility. It should be open to free anchoring since it does not meet these requirements. The north basin is protected water and would be ideal for expanding courtesy docks if done correctly. The waters around the pier can get very choppy and dangerous very quickly.

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    August 7, 2021at9:45 am

    Mayor K promised us 40 to 50 courtesy docks for small boats at the new pier. We got 24 sort of? The way the rules are currently written, if one boat is tied to a dock no.other craft more than 12 feet can be tied to same dock. So when the Bay Watch boat is tied up on the Long dock no other normal sized boats can be there. Same with the other side of that long dock. That leaves of with about 16 tie ups! Oh boy!
    Three times in the short time they have been open there have been no openings for me and my out of town guests to tie up at downtown.

  10. Avatar


    August 7, 2021at10:02 am

    The Bay Watch boat could tie up at the dock behind the History Museum. That would free up spaces on the long dock in front of Doc Fords.
    There are not 25 new “floating docks” . There are 7 docks that potentially 24-25 boats could tie up at. One is a “long” dock that could be used to tie up up to 4 boats on each side. The Bay Watch boat has taken over most of one side of the long dock. Love Bay Watch and I am a member but, they should move.

    Why couldn’t we use the entire West side of the Spa Beach sea wall as Courtesy tie ups? Great protected water in Vinoy Basin. We don’t need those very nice but very expensive floating docks. A boaters beach along that same wall is another idea I have.

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